Monday, July 26, 2004

Once and Future Kings

Charlie Chan movie watchers quickly learn the importance of character actors and bit people. ("Bit people"--interesting term--doesn't that sound like a class of folks who just can't wait to be bit?!?!--)

Each of us can pick our personal favorites from the main casts of our mystery series to actors who pop up in more than one Chan movie and then we have those who only appear once, either early in their carreer or later.

In The Feathered Serpent, we have two different examples: One is Nils Asther, who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1897. His career was on the way out, having acted against such actress as Greta Garbo.

He left for Europe to make war stories and ended up driving trucks in his country!

Asther had played parts like General Yen in THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN (1933) and as Agor Singe in THE NIGHT MONSTER before turning to THE FEATHERED SERPENT.

Where Nils Asther had his glory days behind him, Jay Silverheels took off after his appearing with Charlie Chan to new heights later as Tonto to Clayton Moore's Lone Ranger.

Ironically, he had been born Harold J. Smith with a Mohawk Chief father on a Canadian reservation.

Silverheels was well-trained to become a stunt man in 1938, having played both boxing and lacrosse.

He would meet his match in Clayton Moore in 1949 when they appeared together in The Cowboy and the Indian. They rode into Lone Ranger history together from there.

Jay Silverheels would stay stereotyped as Tonto, but remained a beloved friend to at least one generation of kids who still think of him as one of their heros, along with that masked man!

Charlie Chan had to be pleased that Jay Silverheels was one actor who liked continuing a good thing: Working only with the best!


Blogger Chris M. said...

Well done, Virginia!! That research paid off a gold mine of information. I hope to see more in the near future!!

27/7/04 8:19 AM  

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